Wednesday, 25 May 2016

How To Be Parisian

I think by now it has become evident that my aim has been to become a native here in Paris which hopefully has started happening. I mean I do sneer at people who eat on the metro and I do think that anytime is appropriate to sit outside a café with a glass of rose and some nibbles watching the world go by.
Today I was walking to work watching all of the French sat outside eating lunch and it occurred to me why I like living here so much. People take their time doing stuff. You see the grocers chatting away to each other, probably gossiping about all of the locals. I saw this guy obviously on his lunch break from work chomping down on a strawberry tart in a local brasserie while reading the paper. Doesn’t that sound like absolute bliss? Earlier today I wandered through the Bois de Boulogne on my way to see the Fondation Louis Vuitton and what did I see? Groups of old men playing pétanque with bottles of wine in the mid-afternoon sunshine.

I think that this summer I am going to make a promise to myself. I need to be more Parisian. I need to take things more slowly and savour the little things. Whether that is sitting on a bench and eating a really fresh peach in the sunshine or take time to prendre une verre with a couple of good friends. 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

I couldn’t help but use a line from my favourite sci-fi series in order to describe the crazy journey that will come to an end tomorrow.  It truly has been a rollercoaster of emotions like all university experiences are. I would not have changed my time here at university for the world. I believe that it has made me the person I am today and without the experiences I’ve had here there is no way on this earth that I would be as strong as I am now.
That doesn’t mean that it has been easy. Anything but. I don’t think I really anticipated how hard it would be to move to a different country when I was barely 18 from sorting out my utilities to cooking for myself everyday it made me grow up so much quicker than I had ever expected. I’ve found out how resilient I can be in the face of adversity throughout my time at university but I would say this has particularly been proved during this last year. Following the horrendous events of November last year I was in a slump that has been difficult to get myself out of until very recently. At that moment and during some of the darkest times I wanted university to just be over with already. However I’m glad that I have got through what has been a really testing term for me. Mental health is a topic the media is always telling us we need to pay more attention to and it wasn’t until it affected me directly that I understood why. By opening up with what I was going through (and still am to a certain extent) I was able to help myself as well as them. In brief I would say that one of the biggest things my time at university has taught me is to be honest with people about what is going on in your head. I am all too ready to bury my head in the sand and but a brave face on but realistically this doesn’t help anyone.
I’m apprehensive about going out into the big wide world just as I was when I finished secondary school but this time it feels a lot more uncertain. The 9-5 is such an exciting prospect to me but im pretty sure that there isn’t a student graduating right now who isn’t slightly afraid of not having the safety net of formal education to help them when things go wrong. No longer will we have student loans to pay the bills or the lovely people in Student Services to dictate our timetables to us. My degree has taught me so many more things than how to write a good essay about Bonapartism and I am looking forward to doing it all on my own so I can prove to myself that I can. It’s just that I have a heavy heart about leaving an institution that has given me so much support and so many life skills that I could never have learnt anywhere else.
This blog won’t stop by any stretch of the imagination. It started as a vanity project and so I could keep in contact with friends and family by letting them know about all of the funny things that were happening in my life. Now it has turned more into a bit of therapy. In fact this post might read like I am pouring my heart out to a counsellor and for that I apologise. I feel it is important though at this point in my Parisian journey to look back and reflect on all of the ups and downs and where I am today. Despite not quite being the fully fledged adult I thought I would be at this stage I do believe that I have grown enormously since that first day of Freshers week where I skipped my way into uni excited to meet my new friends.
I would finally like to say thank you to all of you who have been reading my blog. It really does mean a lot to me when I get the feedback from you all. As someone who suffers from social anxiety I feel like this is a platform that I can use to fully express myself when I struggle to do so in social situations. Seeing the page view counter increasing following a new post I get a sudden rush of excitement that people actually want to read what I have written – something I never imagined would happen.
Before I get too emotional myself I will wrap it up quickly and just reiterate my thanks to all of you who have participated in my university career, whether friends, family or blog readers.  I shall continue to grow in myself and more importantly continue writing! And like the dolphins in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy I shall no proceed to flick-flack away across the sea to the next part of the adventure we call life.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Caffeine Cravings

It isn’t surprising that in my final exam period my mind is wandering to thoughts of delicious drinks that can keep my awake that little bit in order to cram just a little bit more information into my brain. One of my ideas of what my life would be like when I first moved to Paris definitely involved lounging in a gorgeous pavement café sipping espressos and basking in sunshine. Luckily this has proved to be one of my favourite activities during this Parisian adventure. Grabbing coffee with a friend is synonymous with putting the world to rights and is an activity I am more than well versed in. Here is my shortlist of the top places to pick up your latest pick me up.
·         Strada Café on Rue du Temple and Rue Monge is everything a hipster cafe should be. From the ever changing art on the walls to the deliciously freshly pressed juices you can’t go wrong with anything from here. I stumbled across the Marais branch during a long day schlepping around the city for work and managed to have a delightful pitstop out of the hot summer sun and had an invigorating latte.
·         Café Kitsune on Galerie de Montpensier has some of the best homemade iced tea that I have ever tasted. What better way to finish off wandering around the Louvre that a cup of citrusy goodness? The interior décor is truly sublime and makes the experience you have there.  The little fox shaped biscuits are the best thing to round off a visit to this fashionista hotspot.
·         Coutume on Rue Babylone and Coutume Instituutti on Rue des Ecoles in the Finnish Cultural Institute have to be my two favourite places to work, natter and feast on Scandinavian goodness. The Finnish pastries that they have are truly magnificent and deserve an entire blogpost for themselves. I suggest ordering a chai latte and financier if you happen to be in the Coutume Babylone for the perfect revision aid.

There are obviously many more places to go and grab a good old cup of Joe as our American cousins call it but these are just a few favourites. I’m sure this might become a regular feature on my blog as I really can’t get enough of anything brewed by a beardy barista.